America's Mission: The United States and the Worldwide Struggle for Democracy in the Twentieth Century

America's Mission: The United States and the Worldwide Struggle for Democracy in the Twentieth Century

America's Mission: The United States and the Worldwide Struggle for Democracy in the Twentieth Century

America's Mission: The United States and the Worldwide Struggle for Democracy in the Twentieth Century

Synopsis

The strength and prestige of democracy worldwide at the end of the twentieth century are due in good measure to the impact of America on international affairs, argues Tony Smith. Here for the first time is a book that documents the extraordinary history of American foreign policy with respect to the promotion of democracy worldwide, an effort whose greatest triumph came in the occupations of Japan and Germany but whose setbacks include interventions in Latin America and Vietnam.

Excerpt

We in the west are still adjusting to the dawn of a world that suddenly lacks the fearful challenge of our most powerful communist rival. Policymakers in the United States sometimes seem almost wistful about the loss of the perfect clarity that characterized the missions and goals of foreign affairs during the cold war. And, of course, with the disappearance of a clear threat to national security, political leaders are uncertain about just what the public will support in terms of global strategy and action. in this context it is not surprising that students of international relations also seem perplexed, peering into a misty present for clues to a remarkably uncertain future.

Yet in the short run one thing is certain: the United States occupies a unique role in world affairs. in 1994, in a way that not even the most romantic nineteenth-century patriot could have foreseen, the destiny of the United States as leader of the planet's democracies has a touch of inevitability about it. We may be somewhat uneasy with this preeminence, but in any future competition with authoritarian or theocratic states that still resist the concept of government by the people, the first question will be how willing are Americans to fulfill their leadership role.

A new purity may emerge in the alignment of nations, with the common interests, aspirations, and constraints of the democracies representing the organizing principles for one bloc. While the evidence for such a development is only fragmentary as yet, it does seem that alliances of convenience with anticommunist states regardless of their political hues is a thing of the past. And, in the common principles of democratic nations, there are the beginnings of a credible agenda for foreign policy and national security affairs—an agenda built upon a foundation of continuing military strength as well as strong support for democratic movements everywhere. in some sense this approach derives from the fundamental lesson of the history of America in world affairs. It responds to the old question: can there be a world safe for democracy that is not dominated by democracies?

During and since the breakup of the Soviet empire, the Twentieth Century Fund has supported a number of works intended to help illuminate the near-term agenda of American foreign policy, including Richard Ullman's Securing Europe; Thomas Baylis's The West and Eastern Europe: Economic Statecraft and Political Change; Jeffrey Garten's A Cold Peace: America, Japan, Germany, and the Struggle for Supremacy; and James Chace's The Consequences of the Peace: the New Internationalism and American Foreign Policy. in addition, we have a number of studies of this . . .

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